Zombie deer disease detected in Yellowstone National Parktext_fields
Yellowstone National Park in the US has reported the first known case of 'Zombie Deer Disease,' scientifically known as Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), detected in an adult mule deer buck.
CWD is a fatal and contagious ailment affecting cervids, encompassing species like deer, elk, caribou, reindeer, and moose.
The confirmation of the disease emerged from a carcass found near Yellowstone Lake in the park's southeastern area.
The National Park Service affirmed this finding in a news release, revealing that the deer, initially captured as part of a population study in Cody, Wyoming, was tracked via a GPS collar, indicating its demise in mid-October 2023.
The release elaborated, "In coordination with Yellowstone staff, WGFD located the carcass on the Promontory, a landmass that separates the South and Southeast arms of Yellowstone Lake, and collected samples for testing. The samples tested positive for CWD based on multiple diagnostic tests performed at WGFD's Wildlife Health Laboratory."
Chronic Wasting Disease is instigated by a malformed protein (prion) that accumulates in the brain and other tissues, instigating physiological and behavioral alterations leading to emaciation and eventual fatality. It spreads through direct animal-to-animal contact or indirectly via contact with infectious particles lingering in the environment, including feces, soil, or vegetation. Moreover, contamination of feed or pasture with these prions can also infect animals.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the disease's symptoms may take over a year to manifest in deer. Early signs include rapid weight loss, stumbling, lethargy, and a decline in energy levels. Currently, there exists neither a cure nor a vaccine for CWD.
Manifestations of CWD in animals involve listlessness, weight loss, increased drinking and urinating, excessive drooling, head lowering, and loss of coordination. Although it doesn't infect humans or domestic animals, caution is advised regarding the consumption of tissues from infected animals, as per the US National Park Service.
While no evidence suggests CWD transmission to humans or domestic animals, certain studies imply a risk to monkeys through the consumption of infected animal meat or contact with their brains or bodily fluids. Despite this, CWD remains a concerning ailment with profound implications for cervid populations, prompting vigilance and preventive measures within affected regions.